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S. Korea to resume inter-Korean railway project

Posted April. 21, 2020 07:42,   

Updated April. 21, 2020 07:42


The South Korean government has officially announced the resumption of an inter-Korean railway project. The announcement came two days after the leaders of South Korea and the U.S. spoke on the phone and reached a consensus on providing humanitarian aid to North Korea. Now eyes are on whether North Korea will respond to the message of dialogue by South Korea and the U.S.

The Ministry of Unification said on Monday that it will hold the 313th meeting of the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council around Thursday and discuss whether to acknowledge rail construction, which connects Gangneung to Jejin, as inter-Korean exchange and cooperation project. The ministry said it plans to kick start the project by exempting it from a pre-feasibility study.

The connection of railways across the inter-Korean border is the foundation of the Moon Jae-in administration’s New Economic Map Initiative for the Korean Peninsula and part of the historic Panmunjom Declaration two years ago. The two Koreas held the groundbreaking ceremony for inter-Korean railway and road project at Panmun Station in Kaesong on Dec. 26, 2018. But no progress has been made since then due to the breakdown of the Hanoi summit between the U.S. and North Korea the following year. Unification Ministry spokesperson Yoh Sang-key said constructing the Donghae Bukbu Line is not only implementing the rail construction project agreed by the two Koreas but also will help promote the regional economy.

Some say the Moon administration’s drive to restore inter-Korean relations has begun after the ruling party’s landslide victory in the general elections. Against this backdrop, a Unification Ministry official said the government has been discussing the connection of the Donghae Bukbu Line for several years and the railway connection ceremony has been prepared for a long time to celebrate the second anniversary of the April 27 inter-Korean talks.

In-Chan Hwang hic@donga.com